North Cascades Traverse

80 Miles, 3-Day Stage

This route is a true “off the radar” gem. An east to west crossing of the entire North Cascades National Park. We’ve taken out all the logistical headaches and turned this trip into 3 sequential supported runnable days through one of the most rugged mountain ranges in the lower 48. 


  • Wednesday through Saturday — September 9 to 12, 2020


The North Cascades are considered the most rugged mountain range in the contiguous United States. Sharp rocky spires serrate wide swaths of permanent snow fields. Glaciers cling to the steep relief of valleys carved by their icy forebears. Valleys are filled with the ancient trees and the dense foliage of temperate rain forests. Rivers, creeks, and waterfalls cascade through these spaces giving this range it’s namesake. The network of trails threading through this landscape are a passageway through time and wild spaces. A crude reckoning of these paths can be counted in miles and days, but their true measure lies within a much more nuanced experience that is discovered through struggle, feeling, and connection. 

Course Overview

Wednesday, Day 1: Run over Easy Pass, 22 Miles, Elevation Gain/Loss +4,051/-6,602

We meet runners at 7am at Bob’s Burgers and Brews in Burlington WA. After intros, we shuttle runners to the North Cascades National Park. The trip begins with a trip over Easy Pass. The first 3 miles of trail and steady climbing brings one to Easy Pass and big vistas of glaciated peaks and the sweeping Fisher Basin. The trail continues west along Fisher Creek, following the a network of of rivers through deep old growth forests and glacially carved mountain valleys. These runnable trails continue to the shores of Diablo Lake and our Colonial Creek Basecamp. Waiting at camp will be each runners personal gear and plenty of hot food, showers, and drinks.  

Thursday, Day 2: Run over Whatcom Pass, 33 Miles, Elevation Gain/Loss +6,742’ / -6,010

After packing up personal gear in preparation for moving camp a short shuttle takes runners to the Happy Panther Trail head. The trail quickly drops to the shores Ross Lake before turning west and along Big Beaver Creek leading to Beaver Pass. Pause to enjoy the view before descending to Little Beaver Creek and then climbing again to the course high point at Whatcom Pass. This place is more than beautiful. Here the trail follows Brush Creek to its confluence with the Chilliwack River. At these intersecting rivers runners will meet our “sherpa” crew who have packed in a specific set of tents, gear, and personal bag for a remote backcountry camp. 

Friday Day 4: Run Copper Ridge, 22 Miles, Elevation Gain/Loss +6,648 / -6,399’

Waking up in the backcountry an absolutely spectacular day of running awaits. A few miles of soft trail brings runners to the junction with the Copper Ridge trail. Here a mandatory river crossing is followed by 3,500′ of climbing in side of 4 miles of switchbacks. Atop the climb are some of the biggest and inspiring ridge-line views in the North Cascades. The day finishes crossing over Hannegan Pass and running out the Ruth Creek drainage. At trails end a final basecamp of food, drinks, and celebration awaits.

Saturday, Day 4: Shuttle Runners back to Burlington WA

Given the many variables that play into how long runners will take on the final day of running we plan for a Friday night camp and Saturday morning shuttle back to Burlington. There is a possibility, if requested, for a Saturday night shuttle as well. Runners can plan to be back to their cars by noon on Sunday. 


For topographical route information, elevation profiles, and a downloadable GPX file of the routes, visit our Caltopo North Cascades Traverse Map.


This trip begins and ends in Burlington, WA. All other shuttles and transportation will be provided by Aspire.If we have sufficient demand from out of town runners we can provide an Aspire shuttle to and from the SeaTac Airport.  


This trip is a combination of drive-in and backcountry camping. For the backcountry camp Aspire will provide tents, sleeping bags, pads, and group gear. For the front country camps Aspire will provide lively camp amenities for a comfortable “glamp” style experience. Runners will need to provide or rent a personal tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc. for these camps.  

Course Info Packet

For details about the trail, itinerary information, packing and gear lists, menu and dietary information, safety protocols, and trip policies we’ve prepared a North Cascades Traverse Info Packet. Share your email with us and we’ll send you all the info. 


Early Bird Registration: $1,300. Ends December 31st
Regular Registration: $1,400. Ends May 31st
Late Registration: $1,500. Closes Sep 6th

*Payment plans are available for every trip. Email us to set one up


From the blog:

Trip Insurance

Every year we have at least one runner who due to injury, illness, or personal/familial circumstances can not participate in their registered trip.  While registrations can be transferred, Aspire does not issue refunds.  See our FAQ’s.  We strongly encourage each runner to purchase 3rd party trip insurance that will reimburse the cost of registration in the event that you are unable to participate in the event.